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Kate Atkinson Quotes
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My father was an autodidact. It wasn't a middle-class house. Shopkeepers are aspirant. He paid for me to go to private school. He was denied an education - he had a horrible childhood. He got a place at a grammar school and wasn't allowed to go.
When I started 'Case Histories,' the characters were all going to Antarctica on a cruise. The first part was called 'Embarkation.' It was supposed to be about everyone preparing to embark on the cruise, but it mushroomed into an entire book.
Because I've a track record of talking about books I never write, in Australia they think I'm about to write a book about Jane Austen. Something I said at some festival.
Everyone said, 'Well, you're very old for a first novel,' and I said, 'How do you write when you haven't lived? How do you write when you have no experience? How do you write straight out of university?'
I can't imagine what it would be like to write in a relaxed state. I'm going to be writing some stories for my own interest. I want to experiment with different things and see if I can approach writing with much less control and in a better psychological state. It will be like breaking out of a straitjacket.
Life is a very orderly thing, but in fiction there is a huge liberation and freedom. I can do what I like. There's nothing that says I can't write a page of full stops. There is no 'should' involved, although you wouldn't know that from literary reviews and critics.
My highest point was the first thing I won, a short story competition in a women's magazine in the Eighties. It was the first time I'd had my writing validated, and the first thing I'd ever shown anyone else.
Writing for me is quite a plastic form, a kind of mental sculpture, although that sounds weird. It acquires its character and its depth as it goes along.
Fairy tales opened up a door into my imagination - they don't conform to the reality that's around you as a child. I started reading when I was three and read everything, but I wanted to be an actress.
I had a novel in the back of my mind when I won an Ian St James story competition in 1993. At the award ceremony an agent asked me if I was writing a novel. I showed her four or five chapters of what would become 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum' and to my surprise she auctioned them off.
I was an only child and grew up in York where my parents ran a surgical supplies shop. When I say I wish I had brothers and sisters, friends say it's not what it's cracked up to be, but I think it must be good to have someone who knew you from the beginning.
Like many writers, I started by writing short stories. I needed to learn how to write and stories are the most practical way to do this, and less soul-destroying than working your way through a lengthy novel and then discovering it's rubbish.
My work is not my life. I started writing quite late, I didn't have that 'writing is everything, my art is all.' You have to be able to recognise the difference between the two.
The cult of the individual is killing us. I think Twitter signals the death of western civilisation, but people have been saying that since Demosthenes.
A novel and its writer are inseparable: you are your books. A play's not like that at all. 'Abandonment's not mine - it's everyone's. I wanted it to be a co-operative thing because I was tired of that anal control that I have over novels.
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A. A. Milne
H. G. Wells
J. K. Rowling
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